How can I reuse or recycle … school milk cartons?

milk_cartons.jpgWe’ve had an email from headteacher Carole Brautigam:

We are a small rural school for 4-9 year olds. We are currently working towards our eco-schools bronze award. We are keen to recycle the milk cartons that the children use.

We’ve covered the recycling of tetrapak before – there are a few companies that recycle it – but I wonder if there are some particularly primary-school suitable re-use suggestions for the little containers…?

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30 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … school milk cartons?”

  1. Mary says:

    How about carefully pulling the white lids off and folding the tops in so the carton is a nice rectangular box. Tape it shut and use them for building blocks. They are quiet (!) and easily replaceable if they get beat up.

    As to the little white lids, wrap a fabric circle around a cotton ball, glue it in the top so the smooth fabric part is up, and use for a tiny pin cushion. Braid or rickrack can be glued around the edge for a decorative look.

  2. Mary says:

    More info on the little pin cushion–look at the Knit-Knac knitting and sewing blog for a photo of one–September 8, 2007 entry. Cute.

  3. Delusion says:

    Cut the tops off to make them squares, cover in wrapping paper / newspaper / paper with prints on made by the children and use them for pen pots / storing crayons / chalk etc.

  4. Bobbie says:

    Cut the top off and use to plant seeds. -Or- Cut the top off and use to hold crayons.

  5. Karlie says:

    If the carton is waxed paper, you may be able to compost most of it.

    You could also use them for bird houses, Cut out part of a side to make a bird feeder or string them as shades for small lights

  6. kafaa says:

    i fought dis w3bsit3 was vey int3rw3stin

  7. AliceJ says:

    Oooooh, you absolutely must get each child to paint one to look like a house – then you could thread them all together into a whole street of houses!

    Prepare them by washing them out and painting them with white emulsion paint, which can then be painted on by the kids in water-based paints. It’d look great!

  8. Crystal says:

    Rinse the inside well and let it dry. then use them to store nuts, bolts, or any small items.

  9. Rebecca says:

    You can unfold them so they are a tube and use them as seedling shelters in the school garden and compost them or reuse them after the seedlings have grown sufficiently.

  10. genaman says:

    1-cut off top decorate carton thumbtack to wall to store small treasures.
    2-save screw top caps for making game pieces
    3-make a water game by writing either words or figures on the bottom of each identical carton
    put them in a large tub push them around and choose and read you selected carton. You can make up any rules you want for this game.
    4.use milk carton to spread salt for and icy sidewalk or spread grass seed for your lawn in the spring.
    5-A play thing for your gerbels

    Ideas are only thoughts until you make them real
    Good Luck !

  11. Nancy says:

    Maracas –
    Place several small stones or beans inside of a milk carton. Cover the carton with paste and a layer of paper. When dry, paint with tempera in bright colors. Into the bottom of the carton push and glue in a red dowel rod for a handle.

  12. Christine says:

    My dad used to wash them out and fill them with blueberries or strawberries in the summer. Then he’d freeze them. The berries never had freezer burn and they stacked well in the freezer.

  13. Zeke says:

    you can take the lids from the cartons, and paint them black and red. You can use them as checker pieces. (You will need 24 of these.)

  14. Anonymous says:

    no one made one suggestion about how she could actually recycle. everyone just suggested cute little art projects for them. is there a way to recycle them beyond making 400 planters, bird houses, ect….

  15. claire says:

    I used them to make “gingerbread” houses when I was a nanny. You can have the kiddos spread frosting on the cartons and then stick graham crackers on top of the icing-then decorate by sticking candies to the crackers. You could certainly use brown contruction paper instead of edibles. Brown sticky felt would be cute too.

  16. ben says:

    wad can you make with tetra paks

  17. danielle says:

    i am a recycling freak!!! yey :)

  18. penny says:

    you can make things like little houses out of the cartons.

  19. danielle says:

    i love to recycle my old cartons!!
    i like to save the trees!!!
    you can use the cartons to make things like little houses and also little people :)

  20. Suemin says:

    Dog poo scoop

  21. Suemin says:

    Some sort of contanier

  22. br*ndy says:

    wash and clean out the insides have the children paint them to look like a train and then connect them, you could have it on display in the hallway

  23. Esther says:

    I’m sure your rural school has it’s eco-medal by now, but you could use them to make fresh butter. Give one to each kid, fill 3/4 with heavy cream, screw the cap on tight (!) and have them shake till it hardens. Wrap with a large circle of fabric (reused, please… ;) ) and gather with a ribbon bow and a jingle bell.
    You can even incorporate it to a Xmas show, using the little cartons with the finished butter as musical instruments, and have the kids present them to their parents after the show.

  24. Frugal millionaire says:

    Just remove the lid, fill with soil, plant a succulent. :)

  25. Frugal millionaire says:

    Decorate. Store spices you buy in bulk. You can give sets of spices as gifts.

  26. Frugal millionaire says:

    You can also fill them 3/4 with water and use as ice in the half empty freezer to save electricity. When you need ice in the cooler, use them as well, just pul out of the freezer. They will not melt into the cooler and food.

  27. Frugal millionaire says:

    Fill them with wet cement and let g[harden. Remove the box and you have a cement brick to make borders or just decorate garden.

  28. Frugal millionaire says:

    Make out of them flower vases, glue together little town, keep pens and pencils, turn into bird houses, worm farm, bookmarks, decorate class room, turn into Christmas ornament, make wreath, make party hats, make Elmo face, box for napkins, loud speaker, memo cube. To make memo cube, decorate the box, fill with sand, wrap few rounds of rubber band and keep cards, pictures and notes on it. Or, paint the box, fill with sand and then stick sticky notes.

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